Guy Verhofstadt: British students are ‘pro-European’

The UK’s transition period with Brussels came to an end on New Year’s Eve after both sides managed to hammer out a deal the week before following months of negotiations. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said leaving the EU’s trading arrangements offers the chance to “transform our country” as the UK has “taken back control of our money, our laws and our waters”. However, it seems some members of the EU may not have to the UK’s newfound freedom just yet. 

The European Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator and Chair of the Brexit Steering Group said he believes the younger generation in the UK could one day “find their way back” and rejoin the bloc. 

He said: “Whatever happens next, these younger generations will decide on their future for themselves. At some point, one way or another, they will find their way back to the European family.

“As from our side, all we can do in the meantime is try to find least-bad options to make the new relationship work. And I for one will always plead for the European Union to keep its arms and mind open for friends across the Channel, for instance by keeping Erasmus and other exchange programmes open for young Britons.

“This relationship was never easy, but there was always – and will always be – a lot of heart and mind in it. As a democrat and an optimist, I still believe these will win out in the end.”

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But many social users vented their fury at the Belgian MEP’s claims, by warning him that the UK will never do this. 

One Twitter user wrote: “Nothing you can do. At least until next GE when you can see if a party is campaigning for a rejoin.. which I very much doubt will win.”

Another person said: “The situation is very real now.”

And a third mocked him as they added: “Thanks for all your help to get us out. You’ve been a real Leave asset.”

Mr Verhofstadt added it “saddened and frightened” him that UK had chosen to leave the EU.

Writing in the New European, he said: “No one in their right mind ever really believed closing yourself off from your closest economic, political and geopolitical partner would be a constructive thing to do.

“But some honestly believed they had the right to do so, and the only way to spectacularly reaffirm that right was through something spectacularly self-harmful and destructive.

“Still, it saddens and even frightens me to see how a great country can continue to belittle itself in this way.”

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Meanwhile, Mr Johnson, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said the “great new deal” with the EU secured on Christmas Eve honours the “most basic promises” of the 2016 referendum.

He added the EU had provided the UK with a “safe European home” during the 1970s.

But the country has now “changed out of all recognition” with global perspectives.

Mr Johnson said: “We need the Brexit-given chance to turbocharge those sectors in which we excel, to do things differently and to do them better.”

It comes after French president Emmanuel Macron used his new year’s message to say that while the UK remains a “friend and ally”, Brexit was born of a European malaise and “many lies and false promises”.

Speaking from the Elysee Palace, he said: “A few days ago, we reached an agreement to organise our future relations, defending our interests, our industries, our fishermen and our unity.

“The United Kingdom remains our neighbour but also our friend and ally. This choice of leaving Europe, this Brexit, was the child of European malaise and lots of lies and false promises.”

However, Brexiteers took to social media to oppose his views, with one saying: “The way that Macron is bleating means he is a very worried man!”

Another Brexiteer tweeted: “Macron’s bitterness at Brexit finally being delivered is hilarious.”

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